Posted by on September 11, 2013 - 3:39pm

Even at the most basic molecular level sex matters---and it's not just about hormones.   Did you know that muscle stem cells from female mice regenerate new muscle faster than cells from male mice?  And cells from male and female mice respond to stress differently.  Yet most researchers who use basic cell cultures in their work do not even identify the sex of the cells they use.

We already know that this lack of sex identification can have serious consequences when we study new therapeutics.   Most adverse drug effects reported occur in female humans!  Since most basic drug studies start with cell cultures, shouldn't we be comparing the two sets of cells at the start of the "experiment" before it reaches humans???  It certainly would be cheaper and may prevent serious consequences once the drug is used in humans!

At first, it is easy to blame hormones for the differences but researchers have found that hormones may not always  be the culprit.  The way a cell metabolizes its food (energy) may be different by sex and other biologic functions could be affected by sex.  A recent commentary by Elizabeth Pollitzer explores this issue and makes a plea for researchers to include the sex in their publications on all studies--cellular, animal and human.

Posted by on August 23, 2013 - 2:41pm

When patients undergo an acute myocardial infarction, lifestyle changes are necessary to reduce the risk of relapse.   Yet research shows that women and minority patients have a more difficult time with risk factor modification efforts.  A recent study published in the Journal of Women’s Health revealed that 93% of the patients examined had at least one of the five cardiac risk factors evaluated, and of that 93%, black female patients had the greatest risk factor burden of any other subgroup.

The study examined 2,369 patients who were hospitalized for acute myocardial infarction.  The cardiac risk factors evaluated were hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, smoking, diabetes, and obesity. These are well established and potentially manageable risk factors that, when mitigated properly, may decrease the development of coronary heart disease, adverse cardiac events, and even mortality.  Why, then, are 93% of patients showing at least one risk factor post-heart attack?

The answer may lie in the disparities in educating and discharging patients after an acute myocardial infarction episode.  For instance, the research revealed that black female patients were less likely than white patients to receive lipid-lowering medications and smoking-cessation counseling, and this is merely one example of the inconsistencies associated with patient care.  While this study postulates other possible reasons for the high number of at-risk patients, the purpose of the research is to help target intervention strategies to those groups most affected.  Improving post-AMI preventative strategies will decrease the risk of recurrent events while improving patient health outcomes.  Susan G. Kornstein, MD stated “These findings indicate missed opportunities for both prevention and management of cardiac risk factors, particularly for women and minority patients.”  Perhaps with this surfacing research, patient risk factors will no longer be a “missed opportunity,” but rather a preventative priority for clinicians across the globe.

Read more about this research study here.

Posted by on May 25, 2013 - 2:27pm

Did you know there are differences in the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual effects of substance use and abuse on women and men?  Those differences have implications for treatment in behavioral health settings.  The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA)  offers two reports that emphasize  gender-specific research and best practices, such as common patterns of initiation of substance use among women and men and specific treatment issues and strategies.   These reports  demonstrate how important it is to advocate for sex and gender based research across all body systems, something  our Institute is striving to make happen.

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Posted by on May 19, 2011 - 2:55pm

U.S. Female college graduates have a median starting salary offer 17% lower than male college graduates according to a new National Association of Colleges and Employers. The report found that females with new bachelor degrees were offered an average of $36,451 compared to $44,159 for their male counterparts.  Even when salary is adjusted by college major (14 were included), men come out ahead in all except two areas:  engineering and liberal arts/humanities.    Report author Edwin Koc noted that while gender pay disparities are often linked to women more frequently leaving the work force, he did not feel that was the cause in this study.

Just when you begin to believe work discrimination is over when it come to sex and gender, another report comes out that questions the progress women have made when it comes to pay equity.  When the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the U.S. Constitution failed to pass in the mid-70s many felt that progress was still being made in areas like sex harrassment, access to formerly male dominant fields, etc. and took their placards home.  Now, with the economy on the downturn, perhaps it is time to lift up those placards again and fight against fiscal discrimination for women!